- To signify death or ascension to higher planes of existence.
- When a very powerful attack or explosion causes the whole screen to turn white. In a variant the camera focuses on a character's face, then the entire screen fades to white. Also occurs on a digital screen where another party is witnessing the attack or explosion.
- A teleportation special effect.
- The bookend of an Imagine Spot.
- To transition into a snowy scenery.
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Anime and Manga
- Occurs quite often in Mecha anime where a witnesses viewing a digital screen witness a mecha perform a powerful attack or explode. The digital screen becomes a blinding white.
- Code Geass with Nunnally during the Freya explosion in Tokyo. Assumed dead for a couple of episodes, she returns when it is discovered that although she was close enough to ground zero for a fade to white, she was well outside the actual blast radius by that time.
- The end of Lucky Star.
- This is how many characters die in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - most notably Kamina and Kittan. There's a white flash, then a lineart portrait of the character in crude stencil, superimposed with their last words or thoughts.
- Happened at the conclusion of a number of episodes of Digimon Adventure, though it was just to say "the episode's over, cue the credits."
- In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (and the manga to some extent, just not as well shown), it's used to show Maria Ross getting blown up by Roy Mustang's flames. Until you learn that it wasn't actually her...
- The omake to Naruto episode 166 fades to red at the end Hinata is bleeding out after being stabbed by Pain. The omake is a flashback to her time at the Academy, showing how she developed admiration for and ultimately fell in love with Naruto, regretting her missed opportunities. This is a rare case where fading to red is used though the character survives.
- Used in the finale of GUN×SWORD. An injured Van sees his life flashing before his eyes. At the end of the flashback, as he remembers Wendy's offer to marry him, her face fades to white . . . and then he sees someone else.
- In episode 25 of Brigadoon: Marin and Melan, the episode ends with a fade to white as a result of a powerful attack. It also suggests that everyone may have just died. It makes a dramatic setup for the finale.
- In the Act 1 Cold Open of Sailor Moon Crystal, Usagi's Dreaming of Times Gone By is interrupted by this as she wakes up, right as the music swells and the dream prince and princess Almost Kiss.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The death of Kuze in 2nd Gig, however there's an implication he managed to upload himself to the Net beforehand.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Used at the end of Christopher Reeve's movie Somewhere in Time.
- When George of the Jungle is shot in his movie, Ursula's scream of "George!" fades to white, which then pulls out past the airplane window to reveal them flying home.
- The much-reviled Star Trek V: The Final Frontier began with a fade from a white screen. At the end of that scene there was a fade to white, which cut to the credits.
- Pretty sure the Resident Evil movies do this a couple of times with the scenes in the lab and hospital. Not 100% however.
- Used at the end of Looper, leaving the future of Cid up in the air.
- Used in The Lord of the Rings when Frodo first sees Arwen and later Elrond, when he's dying from the Morgul blade. One of the ending fake-outs in the Return of the King movie faded to white instead of black, just for variety's sake. As did the actual ending.
- Used in the Hillary Duff movie Raise Your Voice when her brother dies.
- At the end of Cube, when Kazan exits the Cube and enters the white void beyond.
- Used shortly after The Reveal in The Sixth Sense, most likely because of the nature of said reveal.
- Used in the climax of Desperado after Mariachi kills Bucho and the final shootout begins.
- The ending of The Ninth Gate.
- This is shown in The Hunger Games in Rue's perspective as she dies.
- A director trademark of Darren Aronofsky, who has made good use of it in π, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and Black Swan.
- At the end of Eraserhead, The Lady In The Radiator embraces Henry in a blinding white light.
- The Chinese movie Temptation of a Monk ends this way, while the protagonist walks up a mountain, suggesting transcendence and detachment from the material world.
- The 1990 film Total Recall (1990), said by the director to signify the lights on Rekall's memory chair.
- Used extensively in the daylight scene transitions of the Antarctica-set The Thing (1982).
- In The Professional, when the titular character is shot in the back just as he was about to achieve the freedom he was seeking.
- The ending of Let the Right One In's remake has a fade to white followed by the credits on a white screen.
- The movie Blindness uses this, as people are going blind and only seeing white.
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes ends with a slow fade to white because the producers apparently couldn't afford a cool visual effect for the Alpha-Omega Bomb.
- Mouth to Mouth ends on a rare upbeat use of this.
- Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Roger Ebert's review points out that there is literally no other way to end this movie.
- Thelma & Louise ends with a fade to white after Thelma and Louise drive off the Grand Canyon.
- The Jacket ends with this along with a female voice asking "How much time do we have?"
- The last scene in Layer Cake of the protagonist lying bleeding on the stairs fades out to white.
- In Solaris (1972), the closing Flyaway Shot fades into white.
- The Day After: Briefly, as the explosion in the attack scene takes place. This immediately cuts to a young boy who is blinded after seeing the explosion for a split second.
- Game of Thrones: When Jon passes beyond the Wall at the end of "The Watchers on the Wall."
- Six Feet Under only ever used fade to whites. This tied into its themes of death being everywhere and unavoidable.
- Arrested Development faded to white whereas regular shows faded to black.
- The PBS TV show Paper Angels, based on the play, had white-outs between every scene, except one fade to red after a character's suicide.
- Anything on Lost involving "flashes," such as Desmond turning the key in season 2, or the time skips in season 5.
- Also the H-bomb explosion in the season 5 finale.
- Used to disconcerting effect at the end of The West Wing episode "Commencement" — every episode of the show had always ended with a Fade to Black with a "created by" credit in white text, and this episode simply inverted the colors, which somehow seemed like a message that the current cliffhanger (Zoey's kidnapping) was a bigger or at least very different crisis from anything the show had covered so far. The next episode, the season finale, also opened with the title in black-on-white instead of the usual white-on-black; by the end of that episode, the characters' situation had stabilized somewhat and it was back to fading to black at the end.
- Supernatural ended season 4 this way, the white light from Lucifer rising from his prison growing more and more intense until it took over the whole screen.
- Used in Torchwood to portray the the nuclear meltdown that killed Owen (again, for good - probably...)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Willow and Tara reaching orgasm...err the nether-realm in "Who Are You?"
- Dawn finding Tara's body in "Villains".
- Used in the Babylon 5 Grand Finale, as Sheridan was taken Beyond the Rim by Lorien.
- Modern Warfare does this when Sgt. Jackson dies at the end of "Shock and Awe", and again at the final level when Soap passes out. Until the announcement of the characters for Modern Warfare 2, this ended up with some fan theories proposing that Soap died as well.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, you white out as opposed to black out. They changed it back to "black out" in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Nobody seems to know why either change was made, and nobody really cares.
- Used rather heavily in the Disgaea series due to the sheer number of gigantic, screen filling explosions present in attacks.
- In Fallout 3, at the end of the game (at least without the Broken Steel DLC), if you choose the "good ending" by activating the purifier.
- In Final Fantasy XII, this is the end of the teleportation animation.
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: There is a minor sidequest in which Lightning speaks to three ghosts, and the screen turns white at the end of each conversation. This represents her saving their souls. She thought that only gods could save the souls of the dead. Something of a plot point there.
- The Darkness does this at the end, when Jenny tells Jackie to wake up after he's been completely taken over by the Darkness.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has a Fade To White at the end of the game, signifying the breaking of the three day time loop the game took place in.
- Likewise, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword fades to white after Zelda awakens from a thousand-year slumber and stumbles drowsily into Link's arms and holds the effect for a few seconds. What actually happened during the fade is anyone's guess.
- Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil does this at the end.
- Phantasy Star III and Phantasy Star IV use this effect for a Fight Woosh.
- As does The World Ends with You. Before big boss battles, the fade effect takes longer.
- Half-Life 2: Episode One ends this way when the citadel finally explodes just moments after you have boarded the last train out of City 17.
- Emulating the above, Portal ends with a fade to white upon defeating GLaDOS and accelerating up to the outside world before credits roll.
- The Half-Life mod Afraid Of Monsters, at least in the Director's Cut version, has three sequential endings that are lead up to by the protagonist seeing what appears to be light at the end of an otherwise completely black tunnel and running towards it. While the first two fade to black a few seconds after he starts running towards it, the third lets him actually make the full trip, entering into the light - and then that ending shows him having committed suicide, out of guilt for the rampage he was apparently responsible for in the first ending.
- Journey makes common use of this trope, except at least the very end of the fourth chapter.
- Happens frequently in Eternal Darkness. After any "insanity effect cutscene" where the character hallucinates something bizarre and twisted, the screen goes white and fades back to normal. Characters usually then state "this...can't...be happening!"
- Occurs in Trauma Center: Under the Knife during the bomb level. Any mistakes cause a zoom-out followed by a fade to white and the usual Operation Failed message.
- One of the endings in A Tale of Two Kingdoms has the screen slowly fade to white, and when it finishes you stay in the fairy realm forever.
- At the end of BIT.TRIP FLUX, in the epilogue level, the screen slowly fades to white.
- After defeating Master Hand or Crazy Hand, the screen fades to white, and then it fades to black.
- In Sim City 4, if you choose to completely delete a city, the screen fades to white, and red loading text comes up.
- Not death, per se, nor the entire screen, but defeating any of the Star Wolf members in Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars shows their communications screen to be this, presumably from their fighters burning up after you shoot them down.
- Don't touch the poisonous powder in Papers, Please.
- Spec Ops: The Line uses this during hallucination sequences, and throughout the entirety of the game's ending, the only place where Walker can confront his demons and earn some measure of redemption. The implications are obvious and troubling.
- Happens in the Touhou fangame Concealed the Conclusion as Gensokyo is collapsing if the timer runs out during the final battle.
- Most of the Resident Evil games has the screen fade to white when the player character is killed before fading back to reveal how they died and then the screen Fade to Black.
- The Matrix: Path of Neo uses this as a segue into the next level, or the level-up screen.
- Using too much electricity at once in LIT will result in the screen fading to white as the generator breaks, leaving Jake to be consumed by the darkness.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, when the Doctor opens the door of Dracula's castle, there's a blast of light and the panel goes completely white. The Doctor thinks he died, turns out it's just a teleporter.
- This strip of Irregular Webcomic!. IWC universe is more or less torn asunder.
- Used in El Goonish Shive here (with a fade from white in the next strip), right after Raven shoots the giant boar to save Grace. Might indicate that Grace fainted, or just suffered an emotional overload.
- The final page of the final chapter of Sins Venials has the Lust and Rhett sit on a beach as the world ends, and fades to a final white panel.
- Chimneyspeak, soon after Elgie gets shot. There's a small "...Ouch..." in the middle of the white space.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender - in the episode "Jet" when the tidal wave destroys the village the picture fades out to white. It then fades back in to a subverted Empathy Doll Shot. The other episodes also ended with a fade out to white, after which they then Fade to Black for the End Credits.
- The last episode of Teen Titans fades to white with Beast Boy running out into what must have been a very bright day, then snaps to black.
- The final episode of Futurama ends like this, after The Professor pushes the time button to undo the events of the episode.